On Feb. 8, I'm going to have a c-section. I will (hopefully) be extremely medicated, and I (hopefully) will not experience much pain, and my son and I will (hopefully) emerge from this procedure unscathed.
I have every reason to believe this will be the case, as c-sections are incredibly common and mine will be taking place under the supervision of a gynecologist who has been working for 30 years (in fact, she delivered me) in one of the best hospitals in the northeast (in fact, Beyoncé delivered there). I am totally confident that I will be OK. And yet, the moment I tell people that I'm having a scheduled c-section, they're f*cking terrified on my behalf.
"Oh, no," my friend texted me when I told her I was having a scheduled c-section. "Is there anything you can do at this point?" "Don't worry," my mom said. "I'm sure he'll flip." (I am 36 weeks pregnant, so unless my baby displays Simone Biles-esque levels of dexterity, the chances of this happening are fairly low.)
One of my writers even sent me a document from a birth expert, written in the hilariously inappropriate Comic Sans MS font, saying that the procedure would culminate with the doctors literally taking my uterus out of my stomach to "inspect it and replace it." The reason for this? Just to, like, check in and see how it's doing, like a dad going up to their teenage son's bedroom when the door has been locked for too long.
While I was touched by others' concern and found lots of the advice super helpful (particularly from women who had also had c-sections), to be honest, I was a bit baffled. I'm about to undergo a procedure that nearly a third of childbearing American women will have. So why is everyone else so freaked out about it? I might be having my baby (and, I guess, my other vital organs, for that matter) cut out of my stomach, but I'm OK with it — in fact, I'm kinda happy about it.
To be clear (although to be honest, I don't think it really matters either way), I am not having an elective c-section. I didn't just waltz into my doctor's office and say I wanted to have a c-section because Britney Spears had one with her kids (although I suppose that's a good enough reason for doing anything, up to and including formulating a birth plan). I'm having a c-section because my baby is in breech, and because of the positioning of my placenta (and, my OB joked, the enormous size of my husband's head), I am apparently not a good candidate for version, the process of turning the baby around in utero.
When my gynecologist told me that I would have to have a c-section, I was admittedly a little anxious. After all, I had read and edited dozens of stories from moms who had been so terrified of undergoing the procedure that they'd tried everything short of reaching in there and turning the baby themselves to avoid them, or who had experienced horrific complications due to c-section recovery.
But because this is my first pregnancy, I likely would have felt anxious regardless of my birth method. And the idea of going in for a scheduled procedure, as opposed to waiting weeks and weeks to either be induced or undergo a labor of indeterminate length, was admittedly appealing to me, because I knew what I was getting into. So I was like, "OK, rock'n'roll. Do what you gotta do. Let's cut this little motherf*cker out."
I like pillows, and air conditioning, and ice cubes, and Seamless, and all the creature comforts that make 21st century living worthwhile. I went into my pregnancy wanting to maximize my comfort as much as possible, and I am going to go out of it the same way, preferably while being drugged up to the gills and watching Law and Order: SVU from my hospital bed.
What I didn't realize at the time was that there is a stigma associated to planned c-sections, both among moms who are invested in the concept of "natural" childbirth and among people who... well, honestly shouldn't care either way how women give birth to begin with. Thanks to celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Britney Spears opting for c-sections, there's this idea that women who choose to be cut up during labor are taking the "easy" way out, that they'd prefer to preserve their physiques rather than undergo the grotesqueries of "natural" labor. There's also a perception among natural birth advocates that the planned c-section rate is so high in the United States because it is much more predictable and easier to control than "natural" vaginal childbirth, thus allowing OB-GYNs to achieve outrageous levels of wealth from an assembly line of tummy-born babies while simultaneously allowing them to get back to their golf games.
I can't speak to the motives of other women who undergo c-sections, although I highly doubt that vanity plays a role in the decision considering everyone who has a c-section has a nasty scar to prove it. What I can say is that even if the natural birth advocates are right, and my gynecologist had told me outright that she wanted me to have a c-section so she could make her golf game, I could not give less of a f*ck. You wanna get back to your golf game, doctor? Cool, sounds fun, 'cause I wanna get this squalling 10-pound bowling ball out of me as quickly as possible, too. Feel free to cut me up and get my baby out and then go to the green and get your 9.0 handicap, or whatever, I dunno anything about golf.
I know there are a lot of women who feel passionately that "natural" vaginal birth is a precious experience. They want to be able to feel every second of the birthing process with every molecule of their body. While I respect every woman's right to give birth the way they want to and don't begrudge anyone's right to have a "natural" birthing experience, I am not one of these women. I like pillows, and air conditioning, and ice cubes, and Seamless, and all the creature comforts that make 21st century living worthwhile. I went into my pregnancy wanting to maximize my comfort as much as possible, and I am going to go out of it the same way, preferably while being drugged up to the gills and watching Law and Order: SVU from my hospital bed.
I care a lot more about my health and safety and the health of safety of my child than whether or not my birth experience matches someone else's conception of what it "should" be like.
I am not delusional enough to believe that having a c-section is the "easy" (or even easier) way out, or that the recovery process is going to be a picnic. (In fact, I've been told repeatedly it can be more painful than a vaginal birth.) But having been told that there is a medical issue that will prevent me from giving birth vaginally, I'm certainly not going to spend the next few weeks of my life mourning being deprived of a natural birthing experience, or terrified of having what is, when it comes right down to it, a safe and hygienic and extremely common form of surgery. Because when it comes right down to it, I care a lot more about my health and safety and the health of safety of my child than whether or not my birth experience matches someone else's conception of what it "should" be like.
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I've failed to do anything the "right" way. I got pregnant accidentally, a few months before my wedding. (When I got married, I was four months along.) I decided to continue the pregnancy despite people's warnings that it would ruin my career, and told people about it fairly early on, despite people's warnings that it was bad luck to do so. I've drank coffee, taken antidepressants, and even had a pint of Guinness or two, despite people's warnings not to do any of those things. (My OB knows, and is fine with it.) My entire pregnancy has been couched in a "despite." And now, I'm about to give birth via scheduled c-section, despite people's warnings that it is not the "right" way to give birth.
So thank you for your concern, but I'm not disappointed that I'm having a c-section, and I'm not super scared of having one, either.
When I found out I was pregnant nine months ago, I decided to continue with my pregnancy — not because I wanted to prove I could do it the "right" way, or because I looked forward to the moment I could grit my teeth, whip out my Rube Goldberg machine of a vagina and show those doctors what real-ass childbirth looks like. I decided to continue with my pregnancy because I realized I wanted to have a child with the man I loved.
My decision to do this was not predicated on my ideal version of a childbirth experience, one that was medication-free and gritty and raw and ideally culminated with a giant talking butterfly fluttering out of my snatch. It was predicated on my belief that my husband and I would love the sh*t out of our baby, and our desire for him to be safe and healthy and happy above all else.
So thank you for your concern, but I'm not disappointed that I'm having a c-section, and I'm not super scared of having one, either (or, at least, not any more scared than I would be if I knew I was having a vaginal birth). Because regardless of how I have my baby, as long as he comes out safe and healthy, then I will know I did pregnancy and childbirth the "right" way. And hey, if it enables my doctor to be able to hit the links before 5 p.m., so much the better.